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What is all the meaning of "casually" in this passage from the first chapter of The...

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coutelle | Valedictorian

Posted June 22, 2013 at 5:18 PM via web

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What is all the meaning of "casually" in this passage from the first chapter of The Great Gatsby


It was lonely for a day or so until one morning some man, more recently arrived than I, stopped me on the road. 
“How do you get to West Egg village?” he asked helplessly.
I told him. And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler. He had casually conferred on me the freedom of the neighborhood. 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 22, 2013 at 6:21 PM (Answer #1)

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In this first chapter, Nick Carraway introduces himself to the reader, explaining how he has come to the East; in addition, Fitzgerald very subtly prepares his text for his ultimate message as he gives Nick the  position of trust with the "casual" conferring of the position of guide by the man who has newly arrived in the East. This "casual," or unpremeditated and, perhaps, even assumed confidence in Nick's ability to guide him underscores Nick's own words in the narrative, that “Most of the confidences were unsought” which are given to him and the stage is set for Nick's role as confidant, guide and trustworthy observer (as the following quote illustrates):

And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler.  He had casually conferred on me the freedom of the neighborhood.

Thus, the stage is set in this introduction to Nick which takes on significant importance--and, ironically, is anything but casual--in understanding Fitzgerald’s message as Nick assumes a position as a reliable narrator whose impressions of the various characters, then, become singularly worthy.

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